Red Light and Stop Sign Tickets in Washington D.C.

Read about the District of Columbia’s red light and stop sign laws and the consequences of a violation.

If you get caught running a stop sign or red light in Washington D.C., you’ll typically be looking at a fine and points on your driving record. This article gives an overview of what the law prohibits and some specific consequences of a stop sign or red light violation.

(Also, read about the options for dealing with a traffic citation.)

Making the Stop

At a red light (solid or flashing) or a stop sign, motorists must come to a complete stop prior to the nearest of reaching a limit line, entering the crosswalk at the near side of the intersection, or entering the intersection itself.

Right-On-Red Rule

Washington D.C. law allows motorists to make a right turn after stopping at a red light, provided there’s no sign indicating the turn is prohibited. However, drivers must use caution and follow right-of-way rules when making a right on red.

Left-on-Red Rule

In Washington D.C., motorists aren’t allowed to make a left turn at a red light.

Meaning of a Yellow Light

In the District of Columbia, a yellow light is a warning that the signal is about to turn red. Motorists must stop at a yellow light unless they are so close to the intersection that a stop can’t be safely made.

Red Light Cameras

Washington D.C. law permits the use of automated cameras at intersections to catch red light violators. Red light camera tickets are mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. The notice that comes in the mail must include the date, time, and location of the violation and copies of the photographs.

A vehicle owner might be able to beat a red light camera ticket by proving to the court that:

  • running the light was necessary to yield to an emergency vehicle
  • the person who ran the light was part of a funeral procession
  • law enforcement directed the person to go through the light, or
  • someone other than the owner was operating the vehicle when the violation occurred through a criminal or fraudulent act.

(Read more about contesting a red light camera ticket and about how red light cameras work.)

Fines and Points for Violations

Generally, stop sign and red light violations are infractions in Washington D.C. The fines for a conviction are:

  • $50 for flashing red light violations
  • $75 for stop sign violations, and
  • $150 for solid red light violations.

A stop sign or light conviction will generally add at least two demerit points to a motorist’s driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension. But eligible motorists can reduce their points by taking a defensive driving course.

Depending on the circumstances, a red light or stop sign violation could also result in a reckless driving conviction. And if one of these offenses leads to the death of another person, vehicular homicide charges are another possibility.

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